This chapter in the Sorcerers & Apprentices story covers a lot of ground. This is going to be one of the times when the story gets kind of condensed, with a lot of details left out. The reason for it this time is because, otherwise, this chapter would be too hard to write. Anyway, the last chapters were all about a couple of wizards being evil to their apprentices. This one is called “Revenge.”
After 7 years of being an apprentice to the abusive and evil Archmage Cyan, Plum took his Examination. The Examination is a time-honored ritual, and only one who passes it can truly claim the title of Wizard. The details of the Examination are a secret, but suffice it to say that Plum passed with a perfect score on his first attempt. His master made it clear that to do less would embarrass him as a teacher, and would be met with severe punishment. But that’s not why Plum worked so hard. He did it because he was world-quality, and wanted everyone to know it. And they did.
When Plum passed the Examination and ended his apprenticeship, he packed his bags and left Cyan’s house that same day. Plum made himself two promises when he left. The first was “I will never take an apprentice.” The second was “Cyan is going to die for what he did to me.” But not yet…
Archmage Cyan’s best friend and ally was Archmage Magenta, and they had always pitted their apprentices Plum and Hot Pink against each other, mostly for their own sick
amusement. Pink still had a year left to go on her apprenticeship when Plum finished his, though. Well, Archmage Magenta wasn’t going to let his fellow Archmages think he was any less good a teacher than Cyan. So he informed Pink that during this, her final year of training, would be harder than all six previous years put together.
Studying for the Examination is not like studying for any other test in the world. And it’s even worse when your master sees you as a vehicle for his own self-promotion first, a toy second, and a human being not at all.
I’m not going to get into what exactly Magenta did to his apprentice, but I will tell you that Pink did, indeed, pass her Examination with the same perfect score that Plum did.
Pink had gotten through the last year by counting down the days, and telling herself that when it was all done, she would be free. But now that she was, she didn’t know what to do with herself. For seven years she had her master to command every moment of every day. The sudden introduction of concepts like “free time” and “privacy” confused her. The worst part for her, though, was knowing that they shouldn’t. They didn’t used to. Was she the same person as when she started? What was she supposed to do with her life, with all her powers, now that she had them? Archmage Magenta had never said.
Never had Pink felt this way before. She’d felt abused and boxed in before, but never this… lost. She found herself sitting alone in a restaurant one day, staring at a menu, and realizing she had no idea what she wanted. There were so many choices, and since when was she allowed to make those? If only Magenta were here to tell her what to do, she thought, and immediately she hated herself for thinking that.
Having no other ideas, Pink realized she had not seen her parents since the day Archmage Magenta showed up on their doorstep and told them that their only daughter was a potential Wizard. She hadn’t called them or written them, either, not in seven years. So Pink went home.
Only it wasn’t home any more. The family living there wasn’t her own. Apparently her parents had sold the house. But why? They loved that house, Pink thought.
Well, it turned out that Pink’s parents had divorced six years ago. What’s more, they both remarried, and both had kids with their new spouses. When Pink re-introduced herself to them, neither was happy to see her. Pink steeled herself for them to be angry, but they didn’t get angry either. She just wasn’t part of her lives any more, and they told her so. They still loved her, they said, but not in a very convincing way.
Pink, no longer an apprentice, was on her own, with no idea what to do, nowhere to go, and no one who loved her. And this is when Plum caught up with her and pitched his idea, the one he’d been plotting while she’d been studying.
Would Pink have agreed to Plum’s plan if she’d been in her right mind? Probably not, to be honest. In Plum’s defense, the idea that Pink hadn’t been itching for revenge never crossed his mind. After all, Pink had given Plum the idea, back on that day when they were practicing Silent spells.
“I know he deserves it, Plum. So does Archmage Magenta, ten times over, but, but… you’re talking about your master. The man who literally taught you everything you know, right? Any trick you think of pulling, he will anticipate. It’s just… just…”
“…hopeless,” finished Plum. But what if they switched?
On a stormy November evening, Plum knocked on the Archmage’s door. The Archmage, not expecting visitors, was nevertheless somewhat amused to see Plum there, and invited him in. The Archmage, being unexpectedly polite, offered him something to drink, and Plum accepted. But no sooner did Archmage Magenta turn his back than Plum began casting the most powerful attack spells he knew, the ones Pink told him Magenta would least be able to counter. Magenta fought back, but he was caught unprepared, and realized to his horror that this young man – the one he’d seen tortured, beaten, experimented on, and humiliated – could possibly be beating him.
So Magenta called his best friend, Archmage Cyan, for help. “I should be over in a moment,” commented Cyan, smugly. He didn’t think the fact that Pink was trying to kill him was even worth mentioning. Because, even she had surprised him in just the same way Plum surprised Magenta, Cyan knew there was no way someone who had passed her Examination less than a month ago could defeat a seasoned Archmage.
That explains why, having pulled off some very clever counter-spells and having Plum on the ropes, Archmage Magenta took his attention away from the battle for just a moment to open the door when the bell rang. And it also explains why, when he saw Pink standing there, he just gaped. He was still gaping a moment later, when Pink and Plum had finished with him and he was lying, stunned, on his back.
“Do you want to kill him?” asked Plum politely.
“No,” said Pink, swallowing.
“Good, I’ll do it then,” said Plum, rubbing his hands together.
“No,” said Pink, more firmly. Now Plum gaped at her.
They spent the next half hour arguing about it. Pink hadn’t killed Cyan either, it turned out. It was the first actual choice she had made in seven years, and she was sticking by it. She was more than happy to get some payback on her master. She would not mind seeing him dead, not one bit. But Pink was not going to become a murderer. And she wouldn’t let Plum become one, either.
They weren’t just about to let their masters walk free, though. And while they kept the two Archmages in an enchanted sleep, in the dungeon-like basement of Cyan’s secluded French chateau, Plum and Pink argued. In the end, the agreement they came to was this. They would each offer their captive masters a choice between spending the rest of their lives in the magically sealed dungeon and taking a potion that would kill them painlessly. It was not a merciful choice, but at least there would be no murder. And Pink privately hoped that, if they chose life, they could someday be freed when Plum’s anger abated.
But Pink’s hope did not come true. When Pink put the question to him, Archmage Magenta quickly chose death. It had nothing to do with imprisonment. The knowledge of his own failure decided it for the old man. So Pink gave him the potion, and he drank it.
Cyan would also have chosen the potion. Except, Plum never gave him the option. Oh, he told Pink that he did. He told Pink that Cyan had chosen death, and she asked no more questions. She never knew he lied.
“If there’s a hell, you’re going there no matter what, master,” said Plum as he shut the dungeon door on the restrained, half-conscious old man. “But if there’s not, and what comes after death is simple peace… you don’t deserve it.”
The sudden disappearance of two out of 16 members on the Council of Archmages hardly went unnoticed. But no one knew what happened to them. Archmage Alabaster, an old wizard from the southern US who had been their closest ally, was quick to accuse their ex-apprentices, but no evidence against Plum and Pink was ever found. Most people thought Alabaster was simply jealous of their success on their Examinations, because none of his own apprentices had ever gotten perfect scores. Besides, the two newly-minted wizards put on a great show of being distraught at the sudden disappearance of their beloved mentors.
The search for the two missing Archmages was called off after three months, and they were both declared dead. It was around that time that Hot Pink, getting sick of that being her wizard name, thought it was time to pick a new one. Plum agreed. And he thought it would be fun to get one final dig at their old masters, in the process.
All the other wizards said what a nice gesture it was that the two ex-apprentices were keeping their masters’ names alive, when the heard that from that day forward, Plum would be known as Cyan the Younger, and Hot Pink would take the name Magenta II. Everyone agreed that the new Cyan and Magenta were quite a team. Everyone agreed they’d do their old masters proud.
Everyone except one sour old man, old Archmage Alabaster. He knew the meaning of revenge, too…
In all future stories, the character known as Plum will be called Cyan (or Cyan the Younger), and the character called Hot Pink will be called Magenta (or Magenta II). And by the way, the character who is speaking in the prologue is this Cyan, Cyan the Younger. Future stories are also likely to be a lot lighter than these have been, but I could go either way on that.